The plan was for a two day trip to lakes Bellfield and Fyans but deadlines and shifting meeting dates (yes, even Max and I aren’t immune) shrunk it to one day – albeit a full one. And while a day’s fishing in the Grampians is always a treat, this time we really could have used that extra 24 hours.
We started at Bellfield just as the mist was burning off to reveal a gorgeous sunny sky overhead. The lake has dropped slightly in recent weeks due to water transfers and is now at 73%. On other lakes I’d prefer rising or stable water. However at Bellfield, the drop combined with the steady decay of the forest that grew in the lakebed during the ‘noughties’ drought, means more and more of the lake is once again accessible to shoreline fishing. The other positive is the unusual discolouration following the massive 2011 floods has finally dissipated and the lake is back to its usual clear self.
Max began by searching among the sticks on the south-western shore with a Fuzzle Bugger and hooked up second cast – then lost the fish. Meanwhile, I headed to a more open area a few hundred metres down and immediately spotted a large trout or salmon smelting at about double my casting range. I willed it to come closer, but didn’t succeed. After that, the activity reduced to an occasional distant rise so we reeled in and headed to Fyans.
The late morning to late lunch session at Fyans was fairly quiet despite idyllic conditions. I caught the only trout I saw move, a 2 pound brown which took a retrieved stick caddis, while Max polaroided a bigger fish but lost it in the glare before he could make a safe cast. Then mid-afternoon, things picked up. We found several trout rising or swirling within casting range. All looked decent, and some were real beauties – I polaroided a 5 pounder and we both saw fish porpoise that looked bigger still. The truth is, we each had a number of good shots, but we were obviously way out with our fly choice or presentation or both. I guess this is one case where too much familiarity can be a bad thing. I can’t remember NOT catching Fyans trout behaving like this in late autumn. Either a team of retrieved little wets like stick caddis and buzzers, or Claret Carrots and Klinkhammers, have usually worked. I did get one fish to take when my Carrot sunk by mistake (maybe that was a missed clue?) and then later, I changed to a stick caddis inert beneath an indicator and landed a 2 pound rainbow almost straight away. But the rise ceased a few minutes later so I couldn’t test whether the new technique was a breakthrough or just a blip at the end of the Bell Curve (see Scientific Angling in the next issue of FlyStream.)
I missed what I fear was a good fish right on dark, just as an occasional trout started showing again (the evening rise proper was a non-event even though the conditions seemed ideal – another mystery.) So there you go novices; take heart – some days even we so-called experts can be left scratching our heads and wishing for a second chance! By the way, Fyans is looking magnificent. It’s lovely and clear and very full, having just risen and settled at 83% – close to its normal operating maximum these days.